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Unread 04-30-2011   #1 (permalink)
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Default Trimming your cat's claws

How to train a cat to accept nail trimming.

~Get kitty used to having his/her paws touched. You can do this any time kitty is relaxed, stroke the paws, hold them between your fingers and apply pressure, when the claws extend, stroke in between the claws and so forth. But you also want to make the training more purposeful. I call that Paw Work.

~Use treats for incentive. Something wet and smearable is best. I use mayonaise, but depending on kitty's preference, butter, yogurt, even cream cheese can be used. You don't need to use a lot, just make sure it's soft enough to smear. You can place a tiny dot (less than pea sized) on the mouth, and kitty will be licking it off as you work.

~Decide on a position you intend to use for nail trimming, whatever is most comfortable for both you and your cat. I sit on the floor and hold the cat in my lap (upright). I used to have Mazy perched on the table, draped over my arm, because I thought that's what she preferred, but lately I've found she prefers being held in my lap on the floor, like the other cats.

**Paw Work** (do daily during training)

~Get treats ready.

~Get kitty into position. Tell him/her what you are doing and why. Speak in a soft voice, offering many reassurances, throughout the process.

~Place a blob of mayonaise (or other soft wet treat) on kitty's mouth and while kitty is working on treat, take each paw and hold it between your fingers and thumb and gently press to extend the claws. Use this time to look carefully at the claws. Notice where the quick is, the pink part, you want to avoid snipping close to that, as it will hurt and bleed.

~After each paw, give a treat. Then release kitty and give one more treat.

~If kitty struggles at first, be firm and hold on. Speak softly and reassuringly. Kitty needs to learn that struggling will not get him/her released, and that what you are doing is not going to hurt in any way.

Of course, use your own judgment about if s/he is getting TOO upset. You don't want the cat to get traumatized, but you don't want to give in too easily either. ( I'll give my own examples later.) If you do release kitty, give a 15 minute break, then resume, until all paws are done.

~When you think kitty is ready, instead of just looking at the claws, snip the tips. I suggest just starting with the tips until you gain skill, to avoid getting the quick. As you become more practiced you will be able to cut them a bit shorter.

~If you can only get one tip in a session, that's fine. Slow and easy does it is the the way to success. Next time you might get two tips. And so on.

~Continue to smear little dots of mayo (or other treat) on the mouth as needed to keep kitty occupied.

~When it's all over, give a final taste of the mayo (or other) by offering it on a spoon or your finger, for kitty to lick off, instead of smearing it on kitty's mouth. (this is important, so s/he knows that's the end of it for that time)

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Unread 04-30-2011   #2 (permalink)
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How my cats handle it.

Tolly and Jennie never needed to go through any of the training, they accepted nail trimming right away.

Tolly won't accept treats during the process. He turns his head away as if he just can't bear to watch. He allows the two front paws to be done, and then begins to struggle. I release him, and move on to the next cat.

After the other cats are done, I gather him up and do his hind feet. He doesn't accept his mayonaise treat until he is completely finished, and up high on his perch. Then, if I offer him the mayonaise on a spoon, he will lick it off. He then spends an hour or more grooming his snipped claws.

I can do all four of Jennie's paws one after the other. She considers it a mortal insult, even as she slurps up the mayonaise off her mouth, and sits with her back pointedly facing me when she is done, so I know what a disgrace I am, but not until after she's licked her final treat off my finger.

Mazy really really hates having her paws touched. She will not allow casual paw touching, and it took years, three full years of Paw Work as described above, before I ever got near her with the clippers. I did the Paw Work every single day, and was bringing her in to the groomer every 4 weeks to have her claws trimmed.

I never gave up though, and using my method described above, finally one momentous day I was able to snip a claw. After that she graduated to allowing a couple claws at a time, and so on, until finally, I was able to do a whole paw in one session. I have to put mayo on her mouth frequently, almost between every claw. She growls warnings and makes yummy noises all at once. It's absolutely hilarious, but I of course do not laugh at her in the moment.

GRRRRrrrYUMMMrrrrrrImwarningyourrrYUMMYrrr
rrrryoubettercutthatoutRRRRrrrYUMMrrrryoullbesorryrrrYUMrrrr....

Mazy has a deeply ingrained need to bite, which I have trained against, but in times of stress she does snap a little, but does not break my skin. I understand I am asking her to do something she despises, so I don't make a big deal out of it. I usually have to release her between paws, sometimes even between claws, to give her a break, then do the other paw. I do only Mazy's front claws, I have never attempted the hind feet, may some day. She always gets a final treat to lick off my finger after it's all over, though I have to crawl under the table to reach her and offer it to her.

Queen Eva, the Screamer, learned fast, but at first my goodness you'd think she was being killed. Queen Eva, like Mazy, was not socialized when I rescued her, but she was much younger and tinier, only 8 weeks old, so I was able to handle her more easily, and get her used to being handled fairly quickly.

At first I had to wrap her in a blanket, and pull one paw out at a time for snipping. She screamed and screamed, and the other cats got very upset. I only did her front claws the first few times, but she developed this habit of raking my palm with her hind claws whenever I tried to handle her, so I started very soon after doing all four paws.

After a few sessions the pauses between screams became longer. A few more times and she realized she wasn't being killed at all, and then she realized the stiller she was, the faster it was over, so I no longer had to wrap her.

Now I can pick her up, snip snip snip all four feet and release her and she barely seems to notice, though she does like to give me a growl or two of warning if she thinks of it, especially when I am doing her extra toes. The little one, deep in the cleft, is very difficult to see, and sometimes takes me more time to get at than she has patience for. She gets the mayo on her mouth as I am snipping, too. And then the treat to lick off my finger after.
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Unread 04-30-2011   #3 (permalink)
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Acerlt, thank you so much for the trimming tips.....appreciate you going into such detail. Gonna try wrapping him in a towel and have my hubby hold him. I didn't realize mayonaise is safe to give cats.


I've been meaning to tell you, your four little guys are adorable. Their lucky to have such a well informed, loving Mom...not just with your cuties, but your sincere concern for all the fur babies on this forum.

Again, thanks so much!
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Thanks for the great write-up Gail. Simba loves to have his nails clipped. His back legs he bites his toenails so they never get very long. It's a regular part of his grooming routine and I have to laugh when I hear him doing it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marionana View Post
Acerlt, thank you so much for the trimming tips.....appreciate you going into such detail. Gonna try wrapping him in a towel and have my hubby hold him. I didn't realize mayonaise is safe to give cats.


I've been meaning to tell you, your four little guys are adorable. Their lucky to have such a well informed, loving Mom...not just with your cuties, but your sincere concern for all the fur babies on this forum.

Again, thanks so much!
Thanks for your kind words Marion. I would do a little training before the wrapping, maybe you won't even need to wrap, if you train first. Don't rush it, all you have is time with him, right?

Mayo doens't have anything in it that is bad for them, as far as I know, and they only get very small amounts. But you can use anything soft he likes. Many cats like yogurt (nothing with fake sweeteners though) and of course there is always butter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alleygata View Post
Thanks for the great write-up Gail. Simba loves to have his nails clipped. His back legs he bites his toenails so they never get very long. It's a regular part of his grooming routine and I have to laugh when I hear him doing it.
Thanks Allie! Leave it to Simba, I just love him. Tolly spends a lot of time grooming his claws too, he loves them. But it's so funny how he looks away.

Funny story: one time I was trimming my own toe nails. I meant to do it right after my shower when they were soft, so it's easier but I forgot, and they were just getting too long to put if off any longer, I was going hiking that day, and long toe nails can hurt, especially going down a mountain.

Anyway, so they were hard and dry and it made a loud noise as I clipped them. At the sound of the first snip Mazy and Jennie disappeared. I guess they thought they were next.

Tolly seemed to know he wasn't in danger, but he lifted his head and stared at me in astonishment. I guess he just couldn't understand why I would do that to myself voluntary. He kind of flinched with each snip, and never took his eyes off what I was doing. It was hilarious.
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They're such amazing creatures and I love kitty stories!

All I have to do is get them out and Simba comes running, when he feels good. He likes me to scratch his face with them between snips. LOL
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Thank you so much For sharing a information about cat trimming tips. I am appreciate you going into such detail.
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